Minnesota's Retail Champions 2019
After reviewing dozens of applications from across the state, the Minnesota Retailers Association is pleased to recognize Branch with its Vendor Partner of the Year award in the 2019 Minnesota’s Retail Champions program.
“Branch has embraced Minnesota since its move in 2016 and has made a name for itself in a big way,” says Bruce Nustad, Minnesota Retailers Association president. “As a partner to retailers, Branch is helping the industry and its employees adapt to the ever-changing way we work and serve communities. Through its innovative mobile platform, Branch is dedicated to the financial wellness of hourly employees as well as helping retailers retain their workforce . We congratulate Branch as the Vendor Partner of the Year.”
“At Branch, we partner with retail employers and their employees to help overcome obstacles hourly workers face,” says Atif Siddiqi, CEO and founder of Branch. “We are constantly analyzing trends and talking to retail employees about what they need and want so we can work collaboratively with our retail partners to open up opportunities in the employee-employer relationship.”
Atif Siddiqi will accept the award in person and discuss what retail employees want today during the Retail Rally event on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, at the Brookview in Golden Valley beginning at 2:00 p.m. The event features seven 20-minute practical, game-changing, cutting edge retail innovations strategies and ideas, including local favorite and award-winning news anchor-reporter Robyne Robinson with fiveXfive Public Art.
Branch is the sole recipient of the Minnesota’s Retail Champions Vendor Partner of the Year award. Seven other organizations will be recognized in other categories such as Best Place To Work, Outstanding Achievement, Retail Employee of the Year, Social Responsibility, Retail Innovation, Customer Experience, and Retailer of the Year.
Retail Rally event information can be found at www.retailrally.com.
Shakopee retailers remove third-party gift cards from shelves amid graduation gift-giving over concerns the City ordinance conflicts with business partner agreements and raises the potential for a clerk to be cited with a misdemeanor crime
While the Shakopee Police Department has said it is not the intention of the City to issue citations this weekend, we take complying with the new law seriously. The reality is retailers were only given 11 days to implement changes and that simply isn’t enough time to train each and every employee, change point of sale systems, and re-write operating procedures to ensure the proper checks and balances exist. While retailers do check identification in some instances, there is no routine situation today where the name on a card is verified as the same on a valid government-issued identification.
Out of concern that front-line retail workers could be cited for breaking the law, a number of Shakopee retailers have removed third-party gift cards from their shelves. The last thing a retailer wants is any employee mistakenly selling a regulated card, which would be a violation of the law and be punishable as a misdemeanor.
In addition, as expressed to the Council at its May 7 meeting, the Shakopee ordinance may conflict with agreements between retailers and their business partners. Some retailers have removed cards from their shelves out of concern that the City’s action may lead to a breach of their agreements.
These cards are an important convenience to customers, especially as Minnesotans celebrate graduations and other special occasions this time of year. We hope retailers can get these cards back on their shelves soon, but the City has put some retailers in the position where that won’t happen until there is no risk to employees or liability with their business partners.
Retailers in Shakopee have taken steps to reduce fraud, including moving cards and increasing employee training. It’s unfortunate the City chose to pass this regulation as opposed to continuing to work in partnership with retailers. Our concerns remain that shoppers will take their business to a neighboring community and career criminals will use fraudulent credit cards to obtain other high-value items.
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President, Minnesota Retailers Association
Emily McGann has been elected chair of the Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA). In late January the Board of Directors met and selected McGann to lead the organization representing 1,200 retail stores. The volunteer leadership role is for one year and encompasses leading a group of 25 Board members from all around Minnesota and a staff focused on growing Minnesota’s retail economy and jobs.
McGann is a regional director of state government affairs for CVS Health, where she works with elected officials in Minnesota, as well as Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. CVS Health is a health innovation company working to help people on their path to better health. Its CVS Pharmacy retail division has more than 9,800 locations, including more than 130 retail pharmacies in Minnesota.
McGann is excited about her leadership role, saying “Minnesota has such a vibrant, diverse retail community. I look forward to this opportunity and am ready to ensure that the retail voice will be well represented and heard across the state as we discuss issues important to employees and the retail business model."
McGann succeeds small business owner Lonnie McQuirter. “We are excited for Emily’s leadership as retailers in Minnesota continue to innovate and, in some cases, reinvent themselves. Emily’s knowledge and passion for both retail and government relations will allow her to contribute greatly in her role as chair as we continue to tell the important story of retail,” said MnRA staff president Bruce Nustad. “And we thank Lonnie for his dedication and commitment of time and energy to the industry this past year.”